Sunday, 2 July 2017

Sue Townsend - Queen and I/ Kráľovná a ja (1992)

"The Queen nodded, reluctant to open her mouth and advertise her class. Her accent was proving to be rather a bother. Should she try to modify it? And her grammar as a nuisance. Should she throw in a few double negatives? It was terribly difficult to work out where she belonged anymore."

"Kráľovná len prikývla, zdráhajúc sa otvoriť ústa a dať najavo svoju spoločenskú vrstvu. Jej prízvuk bol zrazu príťažou. Mala by ho skúsiť zmeniť? A s gramatikou boli tiež len samé mrzutosti. Mala by začať prihadzovať nejaké dvojité zápory? Bolo veľmi ťažké sa vysomáriť z toho, kam vlastne teraz patrí."
Another of those moments when you enter a shop and find yourself in front of the bookshelf and there's a book winking at you and saying: "Have we met before?" "Why yes, handsome. I've read you when I was studying university. We had so much fun together." Old love will not be forgotten and that's why I decided to reread Queen and I by Sue Townsend and write about it on the blog. Sue Townsend is the lady you might remember as the author of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, which is also on my reading list.
The story is about the British royal family and I like them. I think they are a decent kind of celebrities. However, I don't think you must like them or care about them to enjoy the book but it helps. The book is not that much about the royals as it portrays the sad situation of poor people in Britain after the rule of Margaret Thatcher.
The plot goes like this: It's 1992 and it's the republicans who won the British election. The new prime minister promised to get rid of the royal parasites and he intends to keep his promise. The royal family is stripped of all their properties and large belongings and is evicted to a suburb named Hellebore Close. They have no money, few marketable skills and have no idea what activities normal people have to do everyday on their own. And the neighborhood itself?
"It stank. Somebody in the Close was burning car tyres. The acrid smoke drifted sluggishly over a rooftop. Not one house in the Close had its full complement of windows. Fences were broken, or gone. Gardens were full of rubbish, black plastic bags had been split by ravenous dogs, televisions flickered and blared. A police car drove into the Close and stopped. A policeman pull a youth off the pavement, threw him into the back of the car and sped away with the youth struggling in the back. A man lay under a wreck of a car which was jacked up on bricks. Other men squatted close by, aiming torches and watching, men with outdated haircuts and tattoos, their cigarettes cupped in their hands."
Prince Phillip becomes depressed. Prince Charles becomes a criminal. Princess Diana is not sure how to handle her two sons without a nanny. Princess Margaret begins an affair with a neighboring plumber. Harris, the royal dog, gets to lead a pack of stray dogs and the Queen is trying not to lose her head in the middle of it all. Thank god they have neighbors who help them to get settled and cope with the new situations.
"Beverly stayed on for a while and showed Prince Phillip how to heat a saucepan of shaving water on the stove. She explained that the handle of the pan should be pointed away from the front of the stove. So the kids don't knock it. Charles came into the kitchen and watched gravely as though he were watching a demonstration of a Maori war dance. His two sons, their mouths stained orange, crept up and held him hands. They couldn't remember when they had seen so much of their father."

I love Queen and I. Not only it's quite believable when it comes to psychological depictions:
"It was true, she did keep a tight grip on herself. Would she go to her grave without experiencing an emotional breakdown? Was it better for one to hang onto the dictates of one's upbringing: good manners, control and self-discipline, or to behave how one felt and scream in the street like a demented harridan?"
Not only it is full of good laughs:
"Beverly brought five mugs of strong tea round from next door. She gave the uncracked mug to the Queen. Prince Phillip got the next best, the one with Alton Towers written on it. She gave herself the worst, the one with the slow leak which said, "A BONK A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY"."
But it has some touching moments when your heart melts right through your eyes. Moreover, one thing you would expect from a book about famous people, thankfully, doesn't happen here. Sue Townsend doesn't assume and invent scandals, even though the royal family has been through a lot. True in 1992 Diana wasn't dead nor divorced, Charles wasn't married with Camilla and Prince Harry didn't have the history of wearing Nazi costumes yet. However, inventing conspiration theories is very easy and I'm happy the book didn't go that way. Except for some teeny tiny details that are not supposed to be taken seriously.
"A social worker called on us this morning," said Charles. "Trish McPherson?" asked the Queen."Yes. She was awfully nice. She told me that I could have my ears fixed on the National Health. She told me that I have been damaged psychologically... er... and I think she's... well... sort of, er... right. Diana's thinking about having her nose done. She's always hated it."
I recommend to read Queen and I and I'm tagging it with "read it now". 



Aj vám sa stalo, že ste vošli do obchodu a nejako ste skončili pred regálom s knihami, odkiaľ na vás jedna žmurkala hovoriac: "Nepoznáme sa, zlato?" "Áno, miláčik. Čítala som ťa, keď som študovala na výške. Bolo nám spolu skvele." Stará láska nezhrdzavie a preto som si znovu prečítala Kráľovnú a ja od Sue Townsend. Sue Townsend si môžete pamätať ako autorku série kníh Denník Adriána Mola, ktorý si veľmi nepamätám, ale keď je aspoň z polovice taká sranda ako toto, tak si ho píšem na zoznam.
Táto kniha je o britskej kráľovskej rodine a tých mám celkom rada. Myslím, že sú to dôstojné celebrity. No nemyslím si, že ich človek musí mať rád, aby sa mu páčila táto kniha, ale pomôže to. Príbeh však nie je až tak o nich ako o situácii chudobných vrstiev v Británii po vláde Margaret Thatcher.

Zápletka je nasledovná: V roku 1992 vyhrala republikánska strana voľby. Nový premiér sľuboval, že sa zbaví kráľovských parazitov a svoje slovo aj dodrží. Kráľovskej rodine zoberú všetky majetky a vysťahujú jej členov do predmestia Hellebore Close. Nemajú peniaze, málo speňažiteľných schopností a nemajú ani poňatia, čo všetko za aktivity musí bežný človek dennodenne robiť sám. A čo ich nové susedstvo?

"Smrdelo to. Niekto v Hellebore Close pálil pneumatiky. Štipľavý dym sa lenivo vznášal nad okolitými strechami. Ani jeden dom v Hellebore close nemal všetky okná. Ploty boli polámané alebo úplne chýbali. Záhrady boli plné smetí, čierne plastové vrecia roztrhali vyhladnuté psy, televízne obrazovky blikali a hučali. Prišlo policajné auto a zastavilo. Policajt stiahol z chodníka nejakú mládež, hodil ho do auta a odfrčal preč so vzpierajúcim mládencom na zadnom sedadle. Nejaký muž ležal pod vrakom auta, ktoré stálo iba na hromade tehiel. Ďalší muž čupel vedľa, krútil baterkou a sledoval okolie, obaja s nemodernými účesmi a tetovaniami, zvierali v rukách horiace cigarety."
Princ Phillip dostane depresiu. Z princa Charlesa sa stane zločinec. Princezná Diana nevie, čo s deťmi teraz, keď nemá opatrovateľku. Princezná Margaret začne randiť s údržbárom zo susedstva. Harris, kráľovský pes, sa stane vodcom túlavých psov a kráľovná sa uprostred toho všetkého snaží si zachovať chladnú hlavu. Našťastie však majú susedov, ktorí im pomáhajú vysporiadať sa s novou situáciou.  
"Beverly ešte chvíľku zostala a ukázala princovi Phillipovi ako zohriať vodu na sporáku. Vysvetlila mu, že rúčka panvice by mala byť otočená dovnútra, aby ju deti na seba nezhodili. Charles vošiel do kuchyne a vážne to celé sledoval, akoby išlo o ukážku domorodého bojového tanca starých Maorov. Jeho dvaja synovia, ústa celé špinavé, sa k nemu ticho prikradli a chytili ho za ruky. Vôbec si nepamätali, kedy naposledy videli otca tak často ako teraz."

Kniha Kráľovná a ja sa mi veľmi páčila. Nielen, že je celkom dôverihodná, keď ide o psychologické stvárnenie postáv:
"Svoje emócie drží pod kontrolou, to je pravda. Pôjde do hrobu bez toho, aby čo i len raz zažila nervové zrútenie? Je to lepšie, riadiť sa diktátom svojej nekompromisnej výchovy: slušného správania, kontroly a sebadisciplíny alebo sa správať presne tak, ako sa človek cíti a vrešťať na ulici ako dementná stará korčuľa?" 
Nielen, že kniha je plná podarených vtipov:
"Beverly priniesla päť šálok silného čaju. Kráľovnej dala tú neprasknutú šalku. Princovi Phillipovi dala druhú najlepšiu, s nápisom Alton Towers. Sebe dala najhoršiu šálku, čo pomaly presakovala a mala nápis: Sex je najlepší lekár."
No má aj dojemné chvíľky, ktoré vás zahrejú pri srdci a zaštípu v oku. Navyše, ďalšia vec, ktorú by ste asi čakali od knihy o známych osobnostiach, sa tu, chvalabohu, nestane. Sue Townsend si nevymýšľa a nerozpútava škandály, aj keď sa toho v britskej kráľovskej rodiny udialo viac ako dosť. Pravdou síce je, že v 1992 Diana nebola mŕtva ani rozvedená, Charles nebol ženatý s Camillou a princ Harry ešte nebehal po svete s nacistickej uniforme. No vymýšľať si zaručené konšpiračné teórie je veľmi ľahké a som rada, že autorka nešla tou cestou. Až na malé detajly, ktoré však nie sú myslené vážne.
"Dnes ráno k nám prišla sociálna pracovníčka," povedal Charles.
"Trish McPherson?" spýtala sa kráľovná.
"Áno. Bola skutočne príjemná. Povedala mi, že by mi mohli preplatiť operáciu uší. Povedala, že som určite straumatizovaný a duševne podlomený...a... ja si myslím, že... že má vlastne pravdu. Diana premýšľa, že by si dala spraviť nos. Vždy ho neznášala."
 Knihu Kráľovná a ja vrelo odporúčam a označujem ju "okamžite prečítať".

No comments: